Apple develops all-in-one chip for 5G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity on iPhone/iPad

With the potential to convert billions of dollars paid annually to vendors like Broadcom and Qualcomm into additional revenue, Apple is developing an all-in-one chip to provide 5G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity on iPhone/iPad devices. The move mirrors Apple’s initiative to stop using Intel processors for its Mac notebook lineup.

When you’re a hardware manufacturer of Apple’s stature, reliance on external component suppliers is a hindrance not only to maximizing profits, but also to innovation, since the rest of the product is designed around internally housed components and not vice versa. That’s how Apple phones manage to deliver superior deliveries to Android-based alternatives, with hardware and software optimizations allowing them to take efficiency to a level unattainable with an open platform like the one run by Google.

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In the case of the “divorce” from Intel, the motivation offered by Apple was the need to increase competitiveness through better control over the hardware configuration, exercised from the design phase. Then, as now, the main reason was cost and profit margins, as Apple wanted to get as many external component suppliers out of the supply chain as possible.

And external solutions like the 5G modem and chips/transceivers/antennas responsible for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity add a lot to the cost on the hardware side.

What is certain is that Apple has long been working on its own solution for mobile communications, eventually dropping the Qualcomm-supplied 5G modem. In preparation for this move, Apple bought much of Intel’s smartphone modem business. Meanwhile, a court dispute with Qualcomm over patents that are very important to Apple’s ambitions has ended with a multi-year licensing agreement signed between the two giants. Unfortunately, the delays that have arisen have forced Apple to choose a compromise solution, with Qualcomm-supplied 5G connectivity solutions remaining in iPhone models until at least late 2024, or early 2025.

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But by then, Apple will already begin the gradual transition to its own 5G connectivity solution, including it first on top-of-the-line iPhone models. In addition to savings for Apple, the new technical solution is also expected to have real benefits for users, if not through lower prices, then at least through improved battery life or a slightly leaner phone design.

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